I was reading my latest Food & Wine magazine and there is a nice piece on an interview done with
Ted Allen, a well-known foodie/chef on television and is the current host of Chopped.
Ted had some opinions on bringing wine to special occasions in the homes of your friends and family. One of the first things he suggests is NOT to just go to the grocery store, but visit a local wine store and get some direction on a special pick for your host or hostess. After all, it IS a gift. In a way, it reminds me of someone who puts together their own bouquet of fresh flowers to take, as opposed to going to Safeway and picking the cheap carnation arrangement (my personal pet peeve--I really don't like carnations--especially the dyed kind!)
And don't expect them to open your bottle, as it might just be a gift that you would like them to enjoy ALONE later, and you might mention that to them. For the most part, when Ted receives a bottle from guests, he opens them. A nice thing to do, I would say, as it makes the gift-giver feel good! I usually have a couple open already, both a red and a white, but I like to have some variety for both, because there are those who prefer a different type than I may have open. For example, I am NOT a sweet white wine drinker. Pinot Gris and Rieslings don't find their way to my home unless someone brings them. I would rather have variety and let someone tell me what they would like, rather than forcing them to drink a Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon that I am enjoying or have open when they would prefer something else. And the guest may have just brought their personal favorite, so why not open it?
Here is a really fun idea that Ted does for his sister. Go to a wine shop and get six wines with specific food pairings for each one! He puts the pairings onto a tag and hangs one on each bottle. Brilliant!
One of my favorite main courses is salmon because there are so many ways you can prepare it and a whole variety of wines you can pair it with, depending upon your recipe. Wine Enthusiast has a site with several options for wine with salmon as well as some salmon recipes. They suggest Roses and Pinots, but I LOVE a good Chardonnay with it. And I will serve reds with it, also! (I'm not afraid to experiment, but try not to do a "first" with guests until I've experimented on myself). Here was one of their quotes:
“The size and weight of the wine should match the richness and intensity of food,” says Erik Liedholm, wine director and partner with John Howie Restaurants in Seattle. “Grilling creates a char that goes with a New World Syrah or cooler-climate Zin. With poached salmon, a rich Chardonnay can be wonderful.”
I hope that this gives you some food for thought when deciding what wine gifts to purchase for the upcoming holiday season!